Making a bench stool


The next project I wanted to tackle is a bench stool. This is for practice for ultimately making a chair and also just to have a stool in the workshop.

The basis for the design is one by Paul Sellers on his Masterclasses site:


This features a carved seat, four splayed legs with upper and lower stretchers. All four sides are equal and the stretchers have arch details.
My twist on the design is to have the stool be a bit wider from left to right and shorter from front to back. This means the seat will not be rounded along the back, more like a saddle. Also, the legs are longer on the back with a greater lean and the front legs are more vertical.

I worked on this stool by first making a seat, mocking up some legs and then making the legs with mortise and tenon joints.

I started with the seat. I had a bunch of short strips left over from having worked on the workbench. The initial plan was to glue these up as a large laminate section.


I took out five pieces and cut out arched sections to approximate the shape of the seat.


The intent was to cut each individual strip to shape and then glue them all together. This looked liked work so I got six larger 2×2 sized strips and chose to work on those instead.


Each piece had arches cut into it. The arches were also carved out using my radius-bottomed plane.


The pieces were each put into the vice and the sides planed smooth prior to gluing.


They were then glued up and set aside for the night.


After setting up, I took the seat blank out of their clamps and set it into the bench vise to flatten the bottom.


Flipping it over, I got to work with the radius-bottomed plane to carve out the seat.


With the finer radius-bottomed plane, the form came together a bit finer.


I didn’t scrape the seat flat, but just sanded it. There are still some undulations visible, but I think it is OK for a workbench stool.


I then went to work on the legs. I ripped up some pine into roughly 1-1/2″ x 1-1/2″ strips. These were oriented about in multiple variations using clamps until I got something I liked.


With the angles figured out, I cut up the parts and screwed them together. I chamfered the bottom of the seat to make it look a a bit lighter. Then I painted the lot.


I thought the stretchers looked a bit too thick, so I made them taller and thinner. Here you can see the front bottom stretcher has been changed. I think this looks a bit lighter.


The seat looked OK to me so I chose to keep it like it was. So, from here I went to work on the leg frame. I measured the leg angles on the mock-up.

Front legs tilt at 4 degrees from the vertical, the sides tilt at 6 degrees, and the back legs tilt at 11 degrees.


With the angles measured, I had intended to make full-scale drawings as Paul Sellers does in the lesson. His method shows that you can make a drawing for one side and that it could be repeated for all sides.

I found that the different angles cause different lengths in the legs, depending on the angle, so they couldn’t all be the same.


So, I made a side view drawing and a front view drawing and went from there. The highlighted lines were the first version of the side view that I scrapped before I made another view.



With the general layout figured out, I set about marking for mortises etc on the legs.

The first mortise I chiseled out.


And managed to blow out the back. This got patched later.


So, out came the router. I made a jig and routed out the rest. This is way handier way of doing things.


I sawed out the tenons. No photos here for some reason.

After they were all cut up, I glued the frame together.


I had made the legs over-long in each direction. At the top, I cut the horns flush with the top of each stretcher.


Flipping it upside-down, I set about marking off the bottom of the legs to make sure that the chair would be level when sitting on it.

I clamped a 2×4 to the table and marked a line on it. This would be a reference line to mark against.

From the 2×4, I marked a level line across on each leg and then sawed to the line.


I shaped the legs too. Spokeshave, rasp, saw and planes were used to shape.


On the inside of the two upper side stretchers, I glued on a block. Through this block, I drilled holes for screws. Then I screwed the seat onto the frame.


Then I set about painting. I used shellac as a base sanding seal coat and sanded the chair. Then I put on a coat of blue latex and then a coat of black.


Here’s a side view.


And a front view


And an angled view.



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